Insecurity has become rife in Nigeria. From the north to the south, life has become nasty, brutish, and short.
Lately, Nigeria has been enmeshed in a firebox of insecurity leading to scores of deaths and/or abductions of innocent civilians, members of the security personnel, elected officials and many government workers.
The insecurity challenge has assumed a formidable dimension, forcing the country’s political and economic managers and, indeed the entire nation, to rue the loss of their loved ones, investments and absence of safety in most parts of the country.
The number of violent crimes such as kidnappings, ritual killings, religious killings, politically motivated killing and violence, ethnic and/or religious clashes, armed banditry and others have increasingly become the regular signature that characterizes life in Nigeria.
Nowadays, the news is replete with insecurity-related issues such as Islamic insurgency in Northern Nigeria, organised armed banditry involving Fulani herdsmen, farmer-herder conflicts, kidnapping and armed robbery. Every breaking news has become about unknown gunmen and the havoc and tragedy they caused.
Not only has the continued state of insecurity threatened the very fabric of national integration in the country and created the ecology of fear, disquiet and anxiety, it has also meted a deadly blow to industrial development.
Undoubtedly, the question on every patriotic citizen’s mind is: how did we get here? In other words, why has insecurity become an integral part of Nigeria? The underlisted are some factors which combine to create the sultry security situation in the country.
First, the disconnection between the people and government. Over the years, there has been a growing disconnection between the led and the leader(s). Governments, whether military or civilian, have not tried to bridge this chasm, thus creating misunderstanding, mistrust and resentment. Consequently, because the people do not understand the government or have a perception that the leaders do not care about their welfare, they become easy prey to centrifugal forces which incite them to vent their anger on the perceived enemies of the people (the leaders) by taking up arms.
Also, ethno-religious conflicts play a role. This can be said to be the major source of insecurity in Nigeria. Ethno-religious conflicts exist when the social relations between members of one ethnic or religious group and another of such group in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society is characterized by lack of cordiality, mutual suspicion and fear, and a tendency towards violent confrontations to settle grievances. These conflicts have also revolved around who gets what and how in the state especially as it concerns the distribution of scarce resources, power, land, chieftaincy titles, local government councils, control of markets and expansion of religious territories. Consequently, these conflicts have resulted in large-scale killings and violence among ethno-religious groups in the country.
Furthermore, we have a weak and poorly funded military establishment. In spite of the high-security vote state governments receive on a monthly basis, there is greater insecurity in many states. Some of these monies find their way into the pockets of some highly-placed private citizens and the Chief Executives of the states, leaving the hapless citizens to the mercy of criminals and sociopaths. Also the armed forces, paramilitary establishments and the police under federal control are weak institutionally, heavily politicised and poorly funded. This status quo makes it easy for the nation’s security to be compromised.
Admittedly, the insecurity challenge in Nigeria has become a formidable challenge for the Nigerian government and citizens.
The unabating official corruption, high unemployment rate, economic crisis, pauperisation of the masses, decaying infrastructure and a futile national integration project have heated up the socio-political environment. Consequently, armed conflicts, terrorism, ethno-religious holocausts, kidnapping, political assassination and other violent crimes have become the leitmotif of Nigeria’s social relations.
The first duty of a government is to keep its citizens safe because like Hobbes observed, only the state has the wherewithal to guarantee security and save society from anarchy. And since government represents the state, the state through its government should provide adequate security to justify its raison d’être.
Nigeria has an urgent insecurity problem. And paying lip-service to the matters of insecurity that has bedeviled the country by the government and its representatives is sitting on a time-bomb that may soon explode.
Ezinwanne Onwuka, Cross River State.